Integrated therapy is similar to traditional treatment that is focused on guidelines and policies of the related services professions. Just like conventional therapy, this includes various levels of support and degrees of services. It accommodates, modifies, compensates and reduces the effects of learning disabilities so a student can get the most out of special education. Just like traditional therapy, goals are written based on the individual’s needs; therapists will confirm this.
So what makes it different from traditional therapy? In integrated treatment, the student’s related services are provided, planned and assessed. Skills are observed and addressed so they can serve the student’s real life. Also, it offers overall benefits from the educational program of the student.
This may include direct (therapist that works with the student), indirect (therapist works with a group including the student), and that is like a consultation (therapist that meets with the teacher/s of the student). However, some prefer indirect and consultation instead of direct which isolates the student from other people. The therapist, teachers and other professionals work together and learn together. They work together to help the student, and they focus on the specific needs of the students.
Therapists work in a specific environment or natural locations based on what is relevant for the student and how he/she can develop skills. If the student needs an isolated place where they can learn because of problems of distractions, they can be provided. Some examples are:
- The Physical Therapist (PT) can work during a PE class to assist the student with accessibility and ideas for games.
- The therapist assists during math, observing how he/she can help the student with trying methods to help the student with his/her handwriting difficulties.
- The Occupational Therapist (OT) assists a student in art class to help the student use a paintbrush or scissors correctly.
- The Speech or Language Pathologist (SLP) works with the student during Language Arts to assist the student with his/her augmentative communications devices.
The number, frequency and length of the integrated therapy sessions that can be very flexible that is based on the changes that a student show. For example, a new teacher, school or the beginning of a school year may require more assistance from the therapist because it can be hard for the student to adapt to a sudden change. The type of therapy can change depending on what is needed by the student.
IEP is a trans-disciplinary procedure that allows goals to be written down and monitored across all settings. It works collaboratively with a team to write down all goals and objectives that addressed motor, language, mobility, sensory or physical needs. It uses an ecological assessment form a variety of sources and then prioritizes the most needed intervention,
IEP emphasizes the student’s strength and the support needed. By planning, teachers and therapists work side by side and develop open-minded activities and lesson and support strategies to help the student and even other students in the future.
Teachers, therapists, and paraprofessionals all work together in various combinations to support integrated therapy. For example:
- The OT shows that the class a note-taking technique which not only helps the student in need but can also be useful to the whole level.
- The teacher may facilitate a supportive group where the student is participating in, and the therapist discusses disabilities and helping the whole class understand.
- The SLP is present while reading in class and observes if the student with a hearing impairment has trouble with keeping up with lessons and he/she can figure out a way to improve the student’s learning progress.
- The SLP helps prepare and guide his/her student in a social class and help in getting ready for an oral report with the student’s group mates.
- The PT observes a student in a classroom, noting some physical barriers that affect the student’s learning and figure out a way to provide the student with a better place at the school to help improve learning progress
- The SLP observes his/her student in a social class to see how his/her students do with initiating conversations with peers
- Between visits, teachers and therapists can communicate to see if there is an improvement and if there are other areas which merit concern.
Always do your research before going through this kind of therapy. It is better to consult with the right professional if you have any concerns with the learning of your child. Work with the teachers and therapists and be updated with the progress your child makes. Always support your child because this will help a lot in improving his/her behavior and social skills. It is best to start early on instead of waiting. Sometimes, it is hard to correct something when it took a bit longer for you to acknowledge that there is a problem.